Billy Russell is a presenter on Channel [V], and a host of the shows WTF and The Riff.
His favourite video is Smooth Criminal by Michael Jackson.
I was always into Michael, but it wasn’t until Smooth Criminal that my love turned into an obsession that my parents would politely reassure their friends (and themselves) was “intense but healthy.” And it was all because of that lean. For all the great elements in this video (and there are a heap of them – the shattering windows, the foot soldiers, Jesse from Mighty Ducks, THAT FUCKING WHITE SUIT), nothing inspired the same level of sheer batshit excitement as MJ defying gravity by launching himself forward on a 45 degree angle and then oh-so-smoothly pulling himself back up to standing position.
Not only was that move the epitome of cool, but it also was something so extraordinary and super-human that it couldn’t be imitated. Trust me, I tried. Even to this day, the tradition of sitting down to watch Moonwalker is incomplete with a pile of cushions on the floor and one giant leap of faith.
Catch Billy on Channel [V]’s WTF on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 4pm and on The Riff Saturdays at 10:30am.
Ten down, twenty to go. There have been some killer inclusions so far, and the following five is no exception. You want teddy bears? Ninjas? Car chases? Michael Bolton? We got ALL of that shit, right here! Let’s go!
20. Rhys Muldoon – I’m Not Singing
Directed by Natalie van den Dungen
A double-spud for one of Australia’s finest actors and one of Australia’s finest video directors. Both Rhys and Natalie were involved with Darren Hanlon‘s wonderful Butterfly Bones video, and they make their return here to focus on the title track for Rhys’ debut kids’ album. It’s an adorable mini-adventure, following the rockstar lifestyle of a keyboard-and-drums duo making their way to yet another rocking gig – except their roadie keeps nagging them about listening to his album. “I’ve been driving you four years,” he moans. “I don’t know how many times I have to ask!” We should probably mention at this time that the duo are teddy bears, and the roadie is Rhys Muldoon himself. The puppetry is simple, the animated background is sweet and the dancing kids just make this video. Few Aussie clips were this fun in 2011 – and you can only imagine that this would have been the most fun to be a part of. Ahh, Rhys – is there anything you can’t do?
19. Bluejuice – Act Yr Age
Directed by Sam Bennetts
It all started with throwing on robes and turning into a cult that believed that the gaps in peanut butter jars were actually negative space, way back when in 2007. Ever since, Bluejuice have been responsible for some of the most insane dedication to awesome music videos this side of OKGO. So how do they do it this time? Amazingly, they haven’t done something completely insane – let’s not forget that their past videos have including the band jumping out of an aeroplane and learning how to jump rope from scratch. Rather, this just involves the pure gutsiness of Mr. Jake Stone. If you haven’t seen it, I’m not going to spoil it. All you need to know is this: You know that bar that Bluejuice keep setting for themselves and their videos? They keep fucking clearing it.
Read my original blog on Act Yr Age here.
18. The Lonely Island feat. Michael Bolton – Jack Sparrow
Directed by Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer
Although Turtleneck and Chain, the sophomore album for Saturday Night Live kids The Lonely Island, didn’t quite hit the mark in the way that their killer 2009 Incredibad did, it almost went without saying that they were going to make one of the best videos of the year. The trio are easily one of the few things that keep people coming back to SNL, and this side-splitter shows exactly why that’s the case. Everything is lampooned, nothing is sacred, and they have no problem in coaxing major celebrities in poking fun at their area of music, either. T-Pain was the generic AutoTune hook, Akon got the squirrel-y hook and now the Godfather of mullety cheese Michael Bolton gets a taste. You can clearly tell he’s loving every second of it, too, as he switches from pirate costumes to his best Al Pacino impression. Killer timing, played just right – The Lonely Island are more than just frat-boy fun. They’re something for everyone.
Read my original blog on Jack Sparrow here.
17. Art vs. Science – Higher
Directed by Dave Budge
What more can we say about Art vs. Science? We bloody love them. They’ve been featured four times, they charted in last year’s countdown with their bombastic Magic Fountain video and they make a triumphant return once again to top off an absolutely sensational year. They dropped The Experiment, their debut album, toured nationally and internationally, rocked the ARIAs with one of the best performances in years and released a selection of great videos. This particular adventure, however, was unquestionably the pick of the lot. It’s easy to imagine the AvS guys as cool dudes, but what happens when they become secret agents that jump out of planes and battle aliens? Whadaya think, dummy? A whole stack of crazy shit goes down – and it’s nothing short of riotously entertaining throughout. Congrats, gents.
Read my original blog on Higher here.
16. Britney Spears – I Wanna Go
Directed by Chris Marrs Piliero
Just throwing this out there, but what a great year for pop videos. Some mild wankery aside, there were some truly sensational clips ruling the charts throughout the year. It’s great to see some major acts doing some tongue-in-cheek stuff, not worrying about maintaining a “rep” or “cred” or whatever – and major kudos has to go to Chris Marrs Piliero, making his second appearance in the countdown after his wonderful unicorn bloodbath with Ke$ha. On this, her thirty-sixth(!) music video, Britney gets delightfully bitchy in a paparazzi stand-off, referencing everything from The Terminator to her very own Crossroads 2. It’s all very wink-wink-nudge-nudge, and you can clearly tell that Britters and CMP would not have had it any other way. Even if you’re not a Britney fan, give the lady some credit for shaking shit up just a little!
Read my original blog on I Wanna Go here.
A very fun segment of the countdown today. Did you enjoy these clips too? Let us know what you think – drop a comment below or shoot an email across to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can catch up on part one HERE and part two HERE. The second half of the countdown begins next week! See you then!
“Shame on me, to need release…”
Britney Spears has had a couple of good videos in the past few years – including the multiple costumes of Womanizer and the robo-craziness of Hold It Against Me – but hasn’t made something truly ass-kickingly awesome that could come into the league of her last truly great video, Toxic back in around 2003, maybe 2004. The time has come – a time of change, a time of awesome Britney videos. The time has come for I Wanna Go, the third single from Brit’s Femme Fatale album which has given us a video that’s not only her best of the three videos she’s done for FF, but her best post-Toxic video period.
After getting pissed off at a press conference, MegaBritney goes off on a spree of destruction involving titties, children losing innocence, swinging microphones and a particularly strange getaway scene. You’ll even see some classic references to The Terminator and Michael Jackson‘s classic Thriller video. Normally, I’d be writing like crazy about how much I fucking love this video – and don’t get me wrong, I do love it. I really, really do. I just want everyone to experience it for themselves and have the same fucking blast that I did. This is pure tongue-in-cheek craziness, Britney dropping her self-serious pop goddess stature for once and just having a bit of fun! See what you think.
“What went right? What went wrong? Was it a story, or was it a song?”
There was a time when Gnarls Barkley was the most important name in pop music. These days, Cee-Lo is watching people driving ’round town with the girl he loves, while Danger Mouse is off busy producing 755 different albums at the same time. With their powers combined, however, they were game-changers with the release of their debut album in 2006 – as well as this, one of my all-time favourite videos.
So, there’s the idea of rewriting history, but it’s another thing entirely to actually give it a red hot go. Here, GB decided to turn Gnarls Barkley into a character, a myth, an icon, a person in pop music’s history who was responsible for major movements and changes. As one of the “experts” on Gnarls Barkley proclaims, “he is a phenomenon beyond phenomena.”
It’s utterly fascinating, and the editing of old footage just lures you in even more. The one thing that simply cannot be argued about this video is just how incredibly clever the whole thing is. It would have taken forever to properly compile and remix this footage, and it’s an absolute triumph of music videos. No-one’s ever quite attempted something like this, and there’s a good chance no-one ever may again. It’s just perfection. I’ll never get tired of watching this video.
“Not to say that I’m in love with you, but who’s to say that I’m not?”
As long as I’ve been listening to Michael, younger sister Janet has always been in the background somewhere. There was a time where she was getting a lot more attention, but that quickly faded once MJ dropped another record. To be perfectly honest, I don’t find it entirely fair that she’s been so consistently ignored. Sure, she hasn’t done much of note recently – Nipplegate was probably the biggest thing she’s done career-wise in awhile. Back in the day, however, she was making some killer pop – some singles even rivalling Michael’s.
Miss You Much is one such single. Its video, like all great Jackson family clips, is an excuse to fucking well dance. Janet gets home, sees all her friends, they ask what she’s been up to. “You really wanna know?” Hell yes we do. Dancing commences and does not stop. Pure awesome in my books – especially when you’ve got a Jackson dancing in front of you. The choreography is vintage eighties – even at the tail-end of the decade, there’s still no mistaking where those various hand and hip movements came from. It’s also assisted by the fact that it looks simply brilliant – the black and white, for some strange reason, really works in the video’s favour, bringing out the scenery and really drawing in a focus on the dance itself, which starts out small but ends up filling the entire room in its bombastic ways. Fantastic.
This is a total guilty pleasure for me, but I really hope you’ll allow it. There’s just something about this one that I really love. Don’t think you’re off the hook, Michael – I got shitloads to say about your videos. Matter of fact, you’ll be star of Takin’ 5 in a few weeks. For now, though, let’s bask in the glory of a lesser-known but still incredibly talented Jackson.